Tea for Two

  • 5 Comments

I’ve been a tea drinker for a long time. I drank it from a little china tea set as I listened to my A Bargain for Frances” record. I drank it when I lived in England. I drink it now. However, I didn’t start “having tea” until my mother took me to England in 1992. “Having tea” opened a whole new world beyond the flower-painted pot. There were scones, muffins, crumpets, tiny savory sandwiches, clotted cream, and preserves to behold, and I was instantly besotted.

Back in Minneapolis, my mother and I frequented a little tea shop called Brontë’s that had fabulous tea sandwiches in a delicious array of varieties. Then they closed. And I was sad. When I lived in Boston, my mother and I went to High Tea a few times at the Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons, but as gorgeously opulent as those teas were, there was something cold and stiff about the atmosphere. It just wasn’t right.

After we arrived in San Francisco, I started hearing about Lovejoy’s in Noe Valley and on my family’s very first visit here, we made the pilgrimage. My quest had ended — I had finally found the quintessential tea shop outside of England.

A few weeks ago, my Kiwi friend was looking for a place to brunch her visiting mother, so I suggested Lovejoy’s. It was just an excuse for me to go back but it was also an enormous success. The tea shop/antique store is a beautifully cozy spot to take visiting friends and family, hold a shower, or celebrate anything. Then again, forget the special occasions, go to Lovejoy’s whenever you get the yen to nosh on their sumptuous sandwiches and decadent scones slathered with clouds of clotted cream. In addition to the usual tea fare of sandwiches, scones, crumpets, and exquisite petit fours, Lovejoy’s also boasts heartier fare like Cornish pasties, sausage rolls, and quiches. For my part, I’m all about the pear and stilton or chutney and English cheddar sandwiches.

I feel the need to give huge props to the staff there. On both visits I’ve been accompanied by parents (some crazier than others, like mine) with their requests for photos and menu clarification, but everyone who waited on us was patient, cheery, and sweet.

Lovejoy’s Tea Room
1351 Church Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

415.648.5895
Open Wednesdays-Sundays 11-6
Fridays 11-7

Reservations are recommended.

Related

Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink, tea and coffee

About the Author ()

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for CNN.com, MSNBC.com, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED's Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED's Emmy-award winning show "Check, Please! Bay Area." Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater's Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called "hilarious" and "the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn't think he or she wants to read a popular science book." Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport
  • Suebob

    Nitpicking…because if I don’t, someone else will. Here is the explanation about high tea vs. afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is the 4 pm thing with the scones and sannies. High tea is full on dinner.

    http://coffeetea.about.com/cs/culture/a/aftervshigh.htm

  • Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic

    Thank you for your nitpick. However, in Boston, tea, sandwiches, a glass of champangne, and scones with cream was called “high tea” on the menu. Also, at Lovejoy’s (which is what I was writing about) high tea included two sandwiches, coleslaw, spring greens, scone, preserves, and shortbread.

  • Karen

    No splitting hairs here. I enjoyed Stephanie’s write-up! I live in Southern California and I frequent the array of tea parlors here. The one you described sounds awesome– especially the cozy atmosphere! It makes me want to jump on a plane! I also enjoyed your other comments.

  • Wallace MacDuff

    Enjoyed the write up but have to correct the misterm on their menu. As a British citizen, what is described is most definitely not high tea but rather, afternoon tea.

    Wallace MacDuff

  • Anonymous

    I have British friends at both ends of the spectrum and have found that if upper class Brits invite you ’round for tea’ they mean the finger sanwiches and dessert type. When it is someone from the middle or lower classes, it usually means dinner. Sorry if you find my observation crass, but we once ended up sadder but wiser.